JOY RIDE Review – Fresh & Funny & Totally Different

Every so often you will see a film that manages to do something fresh and different in a totally unexpected way. JOY RIDE is that film. It’s the girl gang, road trip, K-Pop, Asian -American raunchy feel -good, viral video comedy that we didn’t know we needed. 

This wild fresh comedy is the debut feature  from director Adele Lim, who was also the co-screenwriter behind CRAZY RICH ASIANS. The film was co -written by Cherry Chevapravatdumrong, Teresa Hsiao, and Adele Lim with Seth Rogen as one of the producers.

The beating heart of JOY RIDE is the relationship between childhood besties Audrey, (Ashley Park) now a lawyer trying to make partner and an artist  Lolo (Sherry Cola) who is trying to make it in the art world with her funky and super-risque art pieces, partly so that she doesn’t have to go back and work in her family’s Chinese restaurant. The two have been friends ever since they were introduced by Audrey’s adoptive white parents, since they were the only two asian kids in a white white white suburb. 

At the start of the film, we learn that  Audry’s needs to go on a business trip to China, to close a deal so that she can make partner at her law firm. Lola comes along to do the translating, since Audrey wasn’t raised in a Chinese speaking household. The besties are joined by Lola’s different cousin Deadeye (Sabrina Wu) whose knowledge of K-Pop culture is going to be more important on this trip than any of them really planned for.

The girl gang is complete when they meet up with  Audrey’ college roommate Kat (Stephanie Hsu), Kat  is an actress with a colorful past.  She is starring in a popular Chinese soap opera, while also acting the part of a good girl who is saving herself for marriage for her fiance.

Lolo brings up the possibility that Audrey might want to use this trip as a chance to search for her birth mother, something that she had talked about doing when they were children.

Saying things don’t go at all as expected and that the trip goes completely, totally and impossibly off the rails is putting it mildly. Throw in a gloriously messy and wackadoodle storyline involving a basketball team, a viral video, a drug dealer, some missing passports and a private jet…and you’ll start to have an idea of the wild ride you are in for. There’s a reason one of the taglines for the movie is “I love a grand adventure.” 

In a film industry devoted to grabbing the attention of the 18— 24 year old male demographic, it’s refreshing to see a film that speaks to women and the experiences of women. This film hits the same cultural sweet spot for women that the original “SEX AND THE CITY” series tickled in the 90s, or the HBO series “GIRLS” tapped into during the pre-pandemic years, where it hit the zeitgeist in just the right way. 

Given the name of the film, it’s hard not to compare the movie to the very proper and very different Asian blockbuster THE JOY LUCK CLUB, the 1993 tale about relationships between Chinese women. This is not that kind of film, nor anywhere near a sequel to that film. The New York Times even pointed out JOY RIDE as  an example of how modern films are letting Asian actors get raunchy.

JOY RIDE is a wild and bumpy trip with Sassy, Cutie, Lisa, and Lisa 2, but totally worth it!

Jason Whyte | Get Reel Movies

JOY RIDE is now playing in cinemas.

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